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Personal opinions and commentary.


Three 90s Magical Girl Shows That Wanted to Be the Next Sailor Moon

When Sailor Moon first came out in Japan in 1992, it changed anime—specifically magical girl anime—forever. The TV adaptation of Naoko Takeuchi’s manga, itself a spinoff of Codename Sailor V, mashed up the long-running genre with elements of sci-fi, superhero fiction, and the Super Sentai franchise. Where once magical girls mostly used their powers to solve basic problems—and occasionally cause them—the Sailor Guardians set a new standard for them as transforming, monster-fighting superheroes.


How Satoshi Kon Helps Us Understand Social Media Microfame

“We are living in a fake world; we are watching fake evening news. We are fighting a fake war. Our government is fake. But we find reality in this fake world. So our stories are the same; we are walking through fake scenes, but ourselves, as we walk through these scenes, are real.” –Haruki Murakami

“As I was doing this character, I never really knew what her reality is.” –Ruby Marlowe, the English voice actress who plays Mima in Perfect Blue


Let the Blood Flow Between Us: Sexual Fantasy and Self-Loathing in The Devils

“Satan is ever ready to seduce us with sensual delights,” Sister Jeanne of the Angels (Vanessa Redgrave) cautions the nuns under her care near the opening of Ken Russell’s The Devils. Released in 1971 to an immediate public backlash, extensive censoring, and outright bans for obscenity and blasphemy, almost 50 years later The Devils remains one of the most extreme and contentious films ever made. But bound up in the strident horns and Day-Glo blood, the gonzo all-white sets and bondage-collared nuns, there’s a raw, unflinching exploration of how we react to and judge ourselves and our desires.


An All-Day Halloween Marathon of Fun-Sized Frights

October isn’t merely a month, it’s an energy. A most macabre sensation that permeates from its 31st day, and inspires not visions of sugarplums, but of ghastly jack-o’-lantern grins, rattling bones, cobwebbed corridors, and—yes—candy. It’s an energy—a state of mind—we call… Halloween.

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How a Gangster Story Reveals the Poisonous Side of Family

91 Days is the best anime I’d never heard of until two months ago.

Although it was released in 2016, I came across it almost two years later. The series summary in the preview amounted to “a guy wants revenge after the mob murders his family,” which didn’t seem like something I’d enjoy watching, but the cover caught my eye—two twenty-something-year-old men point guns at each other in front of a stained glass window in a display that radiated drama and betrayal.

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Why Yu-Gi-Oh is Actually About Dealing With Childhood Trauma

The first time I re-watched the Yu-Gi-Oh anime as an adult, I realized Seto Kaiba—the cocky teen CEO rival to the series’ protagonist Yugi Muto—seriously needs therapy. Now I look back at those pretty, leather-clad boys and think about all the VHS tapes of the show I recorded as a kid—my awkward adolescence was fucked up, but then, so was the concept of ancient Egyptian monsters terrorizing children in modern Japan. Actually, it’s no wonder that I ended up being a hyper-conscious mess—just look at Kaiba and his maniacal obsession with his signature monster card in the game of Duel Monsters that completely defines the Yu-Gi-Oh world: the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Kaiba’s  trying to compensate for something he never had as a child, something I also desperately want to reclaim again.


The One Foe a Super Saiyan Can’t Beat: Capitalism

Dragon Ball is a franchise defined by extremes, and its setting is no exception to that. The Earth is home to futuristic technology, magic, and futuristic technology that might as well be magic. At the same time, dinosaurs are still around, the King of Earth is a dog, and the God of Earth is a green alien. Given the original manga author Akira Toriyama’s off-the-cuff writing style, it’s safe to assume the world wasn’t meticulously detailed in advance, and instead formed from his whims on any given week. But one dynamic Dragon Ball does explore from the very beginning is the sharp divide between the rich and the poor.

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What Video Game Glitches Can Teach Us About Scientific Research

Speedrunning is a hobby with a simple goal: beating video games as quickly as possible. Beneath the surface, though, things are more complicated—rather than just sprinting from the beginning to the end, runners often use tricks and exploit glitches that push game engines to their breaking points. While some of these techniques are uncovered by the runners, many are found by dedicated glitch hunters, people who investigate the mechanics of games in search of ways to exploit them. Looking at the work of glitch hunters reveals a fascinating subculture that can tell us something, surprisingly enough, about the process of scientific research.

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The Wild World of Wrestling Weddings

Once upon a time, the traditionally feminized performance of the wedding ceremony was a ratings season staple of World Wrestling Entertainment, infiltrating the hyper-masculine wrestling ring where relationships were punctuated by violence, not by holy matrimony. And though Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth’s 1991 pay-per-view wedding wasn’t the first instance of in-ring marriage rites, it was the one that kicked off the glitzy shebangs that would follow into the late ’90s Attitude Era—best known amongst non-wrestling fans as the wrestling heyday of sex, drugs and rock and roll that birthed such household names as Stone Cold Steve Austin and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.


How Courage the Cowardly Dog Used Experimental Animation to Terrify Children

Cartoons were strange in the early aughts. It was a time when up and coming animators and writers were given free reign to create imaginative, idiosyncratic children’s shows. The best of the bunch that have survived in popular culture—your Rugrats, your PowerPuff Girls, your Dexter’s Lab—have stuck around because they experimented with visual styles and themes that made a palpable impression on children of that era.

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I Would Have Followed You: Masculine Love and Devotion in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings

In December of 2003, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens’ Return of the King—the third and final film in their trilogy adapting J. R. R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy epic Lord of the Rings—premiered to a gigantic opening weekend and critical acclaim. I half-remember its sweep at the Oscars the following year, the tides of fanfiction that flooded the internet, the memes, the sudden swelling of fantasy’s cachet. I wasn’t yet Online enough, so to speak, for that vast boom in the world of internet fandom to register for me.

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When Eddie Met Venom

Ruben Fleischer’s Venom may have released to mixed reception, but there are certain things that the film executes undeniably well. In particular, it offers a relatively fresh take on the anti-hero that doesn’t use a jaded hard-boiled persona as a crutch for a “baddie” tag. Venom juxtaposes two very different kinds of anti-heroes in a way that makes them interdependent. This structure could go one of two ways—it can push the hero forward, or it can unleash the anti. It does the former, mostly, but it’s the tension between the two that makes the dynamic of this juxtaposition worth looking at.


The Greatest Haunted Game Story of All Time Isn’t About Pokémon or Zelda

In 2018, “creepypasta” is a household term. Internet ghost stories aren’t restricted to the dark corners of obscure message boards anymore—they play out in original video games, YouTube videos, and even on professionally-produced television shows. Despite the vast and various types of creepypasta, all of it is, in some way, an exploration of the hopes and fears of a generation. It’s a way to make sense of the things we deal with in our respective days and ages—in other words, it’s folklore.